Wynn & Encore
New York–New York
Winnemucca has been a travelers' stop since the days of the Emigrant Trail. Even Butch Cassidy dropped by to rob a bank. Named after a Paiute chief, the biggest town on this stretch of I-80 is also a center for the state's Basque community, descended from 19th-century immigrant shepherds.
Twenty-five miles south of Reno, this national historic landmark is the site where the legendary Comstock Lode was struck, sparking a silver bonanza that began in 1859 and stands as one of the world's richest strikes. During the 1860s gold rush, Virginia City was a high-flying, rip-roaring Wild West boomtown.
Along Hwy 95
US Hwy 95 runs vaguely north–south through western Nevada. Although it's hardly a direct route, it's the fastest way to get from Las Vegas to Reno – and still, it's a full day's drive of 450 miles, so get an early start. The highway zigzags to avoid mountain ranges and passes through old mining centers that are not much more than ghost towns today.
Is this the most underrated town in Nevada? We're going to double down and say that it is. An easy drive from Reno or Lake Tahoe, it's a perfect stop for lunch and a stroll around the quiet, old-fashioned downtown.
Though small, Elko is the largest town in rural Nevada and a center of cowboy culture, with a calendar of Western cultural events and a museum big on buckaroos, stagecoaches and the Pony Express. The other cultural influence is Basque; in fact, Basque shepherds and Old West cattlemen had some violent conflicts over grazing rights in the late 19th century.
The biggest town for miles around, Ely deserves an overnight stop. Its old downtown has beautiful regional history murals and awesome vintage neon signs.
Valley of Fire State Park
A masterpiece of desert scenery filled with psychedelically shaped sandstone outcroppings, this park on the north edge of Lake Mead wows. It's amazing that this fantasyland of wondrous shapes carved in psychedelic sandstone by the erosive forces of wind and water is also a relaxing escape that's only 55 miles from Vegas.